Dr. Phyllis Kohel was officially introduced as the new Superintendent of the Milford School District (MHS) at the Milford School Board Meeting on Monday, July 23. In 2011 Phyllis left Milford to take a new position as Superintendent of the Woodbridge School District and has now returned to the district where she has held several positions from teacher to administrator.
During her tenure at Milford Phyllis took on many roles in the Milford School District including an English teacher (1984-1996), Assistant Athletic Director (1991-1997), guidance counselor (1996-1998), Assistant Principal (1998-2000), Principal (2000) and the Director of Student Support. In addition to her son,daughter and one grandchild being alumni of the Milford School District, Ms. Kohel’s 4 other grandchildren are currently enrolled in MHS ranging from grade 5 to 11.
With several challenges including future budget cuts from Race To The Top programs, revising the District’s attendance policy, the return of block scheduling and new start times, Dr. Kohel will have to be prepared to take on many roles as the new Superintendent of seven area schools.
“I am fortunate that the schools are doing well, as they all have meet standards,” commented Kohel. “We need to focus on continuing to build on that success.We have a great teaching staff to help us move forward.”
Dr. Kohel’s main priority is to make sure that the District remains financially sound. With the budget crisis already present and a shortfall of school funding expected by 2014, when federal funds from the Race to the Top program will end, Milford School District needs to find a way to sustain the current programs and services that are offered to students and the community.
“We have already began planning for 2014,” commented Kohel. “We are looking at programs that have proven to be successful in the schools as well as areas where we can absorb costs locally. The planning is starting now and we are not waiting until 2014.”
Dr. Kohel points to other districts that have used Race To The Top funds to secure additional salaries and add staff, but confirms that Milford School District primarily spent the awarded money on student projects that can hopefully be absorbed locally.
During the summer of 2012 teachers and the Milford School Board had several discussions about revamping the current attendance policies for students in the District. The discussion has included placing stricter consequences for students that miss a certain number of days during the school year. Although the specific number and the exact consequences have not be publicly released, a revised policy has been sent to the District lawyer for review.
“Our purpose is to keep kids in school and they have a right to a public education, but there is a real concern over how many days some kids are missing,” commented Dr. Kohel. “Attendance is critical to ensuring that these students get a proper education before they graduate.”
The 2012-2013 school year will see a return to block scheduling, where students take an average of four classes Monday through Friday for 90 minutes for half of the school year. Over the last several years school officials have been working to find solutions to scheduling conflicts created by Professional Learning Communities [PLC] time requirements and Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) testing. In addition to this change will be a adjustment to the start times for each school in the Milford School District.
In July, the Milford School Board voted to unanimously approve new start and end times for the upcoming school year. The new times will be 7:50 a.m. to 2:10 p.m for Banneker, Mispillion and Ross; 8:05 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for Morris; 8:25 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. for Milford Middle School; and 8:25 a.m. to 3:05p.m. for Milford Central Academy and High School. The Wednesday school day for Milford Middle School, Milford Central Academy and High School will begin at 9:50 a.m. and end at 3:05 p.m to accommodate PLC time for the teachers and administration.
“I have received many concerns from community members about the changes and I am anxious to see it myself,” commented Kohel. “We will tweak it as we go along and I am open to any input from the parents and the rest of the community.”
Dr. Phyllis Kohel is excited to be back in the Milford School District and is looking forward to working directly with each school to help them implement their specific programs. She places an emphasis on community involvement and looks to start honoring members of the community for their efforts in the District.
“I think people need to realize how important community is to our schools,” commented Kohel. “There are so many businesses and community members that serve this District in so many ways and they need to be recognized.”